OSHA's Eying Guam Buildup
Allegedly not providing clean water to construction workers housed in a barracks at Harmon, Guam, brought an OSHA willful violation against Hua Sheng International Group Corp. in Barrigada, Guam.
Huge changes are coming to Guam, and soon –- its government may change its name to Guahan, 8,600 Marines and 9,000 dependents are being transferred in from Okinawa, and dredging of sensitive areas may be done to make room for aircraft carriers. OSHA's $139,500 in penalties announced March 12 against Hua Sheng International Group Corp. in Barrigada, Guam, involve a job site and worker barracks that are part of the construction boom coming to the Pacific territory, which is nervously awaiting an influx of about 79,000 people, almost half as many as the 180,000 currently living there.
Several federal agencies were involved in preparing a draft EIS about the project, which will bring some positive impacts to Guam, including improved roads and infrastructure. Public hearings were held last month.
"The failure of employers to provide clean water to workers they are required to house can lead to serious infections and dehydration," Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA's regional administrator in San Francisco, said in the agency's announcement of the penalties against Hua Sheng. "We are vigorously enforcing the standards for adequate housing and safety for all workers, including H-2B temporary workers, especially as construction and other industries ramp up in support of the planned relocation of Marine Corps personnel and their dependents from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam." OSHA said it had cited the company for one alleged willful violation, failing to provide workers with an adequate water supply for drinking, cooking, bathing, flushing, and laundry, with a proposed penalty of $70,000, and 28 alleged serious violations for hazards related to poor living conditions at the employees' barracks and the work site, including allegedly failing to maintain the fire alarm system; maintain toilet rooms in sanitary condition; install cooking and heating equipment to meet local ordinances, codes, and regulations; provide proper food-handling facilities and garbage containers; and provide first aid facilities and maintain a trained first aid person. The proposed penalties for the serious violations total $69,500. OSHA also said it has cited this company six times in the two years prior to this inspection.
There is a Guam Department of Labor, and the influx and work to be done likely means its plate will be full for some time to come. The department is providing a series of free training clinics this month to help private-sector employers understand the regulations in effect about Guam's temporary foreign worker program, employee training, workplace safety, workers’ compensation, fair employment practices, and more. At the same time, the Guam governor's office is holding three public workshops this week as part of its Compatibility Sustainability Study, the chief goal of which is to reduce potential conflicts between military missions and the Guam community.